while researching and preparing for a forthcoming post, I came across this article over at the Architect’s Newspaper. it seems the van allen institute is planning to reopen urban center books in november thanks to a grant from the jmkaplan fund.
“It is vitally important that New York have a place where architectural books and journals can be seen, touched, perused, and purchased,” said Rick Bell, president of the AIA’s New York Chapter. when I read this, I inserted “Jacksonville” in place of “New York”. with such a long and distinguished architectural history, it is more than a little disheartening that Jacksonville has no “space” where architects can go to read, research, study or discuss architecture, design, etc. we are completely limited to what we come across via blogs, twitter or digital magazine subscriptions.
in year’s passed AIA Jacksonville has talked about having a space, a retail space, for selling AIA contract documents and other merchandise that we, as architects, would otherwise need to purchase online. after reading this article, and getting very excited about the resurrection of urban center books, I began thinking how and where this could work in Jacksonville as well as why this idea hasn’t taken root sooner in our city.
Jacksonville can boast a host of architectural styles from Queen Anne to Shingle to Craftsman to Mediterranean to Modern and Eclectic as well as the Klutho Prairie Style. our architectural building fabric is abundant, so why isn’t our architectural literary fabric as robust? perhaps it’s a lack of interest/excitement about design and theory? I don’t think so.
get a few drinks in any architect and they’ll depart on a nearly endless tirade of design theory and critique about everything from the cocktail napkins to the “confrontational layout of the bar stools”….it’s an occupational hazard (just ask my wife – she’s listened to more than a few of my own rantings after the second or third adult beverage).
so, we know architects are always interested in architecture (we’re certainly not in this for the money). perhaps there are geographical barriers? it’s possible. Jacksonville is one of the largest cities in the US. but we’re fortunate to have a central Core of our city that links everything like the center of a star – all roads lead to the Core.
with the general “who” and “where” out of the way, we can start to talk about “why”. the why may seem like a no brainer – a “build it and they will come” attitude, but that really only gets you halfway. we need to get architects and designers excited about having a dedicated retail space for the dissemination of architectural images, ideas, theories and discourse. in the above mentioned article, when the urban center books closed in January, talk began almost immediately about it’s reopening. this shows a deep desire in NYC for architects to have a space, albeit a very small one, to house the latest and greatest in architectural literature. that same passion, I think, is present to a certain degree here in Jacksonville. we’ve simply never had this type of space dedicated to architects and architecture and I think we desperately need it. Our own architecture can only improve by collaboration and social interaction.
besides, who wouldn’t want a place to go for the latest in Archi-porn?